Go Greener, Without Going Nuts
5 easy steps to make your personal-care routine more sustainable
Do you want to make your personal care more sustainable, but you don’t know where to start? Here are some tips and recommendations that I have learned along the way after trying lots of products and brands.
We all know how sometimes we can get a bit attached to the way our hair looks or feels, or how a certain mascara makes our eyes look amazing. Often switching to sustainable products can be a bit overwhelming and make us feel like we must compromise. So, the easiest way to go greener is to start with products that do not have a big impact on the way you look.
I remember struggling a lot with certain solid shampoos and becoming extremely insecure about the way my hair looked. That turned somehow into an inner dilemma between being the “perfect sustainable shopper” and the girl I wanted to be and be seen for.
So, here is the trick, start small and choose products that have a very smooth transition process or almost no transition at all for you. For that, you will need to identify your “insecurities” and “strengths” and play around with your options.
One easy switch can be getting a steel razor whenever you have finished the disposable ones you currently have. It may take a couple of attempts to find the technique, but you can always try it out when you know what you shave will not be seen. Winter is the perfect time to maybe shave your legs (if you want to do so) and gain confidence with your new sustainable razor. Before you know it, you will be using it like a pro.
Another baby step is to start using solid soap instead of shower gel if you feel like solid shampoo is way too scary for you. Personally, my hair is something far too complex to change overnight, and expect the same results I had when using my go-to shampoo or conditioner. But shower gel didn’t feel that hard for me, as long as it was sustainable, fairly produced, and smelled okay. With time, you will start getting more familiar with solid soap brands and textures, and who knows, maybe one day you will also start using solid shampoos and conditioners.
Now, if we talk about soap we can also talk about creams. And here, once again, the easiest is to make small changes that don’t involve your face. Skin complexions are a whole universe and the last thing you want to do is to mess up with your face (especially now that all your meetings are via zoom). But you can still try some more sustainable options next time you need to buy body lotion. The secret lies in your shopping list.
Instead of buying one cream for your body, another one for your hands and yet another for your feet try this simple recipe:
Choose a carrier oil or ingredient that goes well with what your skin needs. Let’s say coconut oil or shea butter if you want to feel extra soft. And then, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oils. You can customize the mix for the different body parts and get the feeling you have 3 or 4 different products. It is cheaper, lasts longer, and requires less packaging.
Here’s my personal choice: coconut + lavender oil for the hands, shea butter + ylan ylang for the body, and coconut + rosemary for the feet.
Another great way to start making your personal-care cabinet more sustainable is to buy toothpaste that comes in recyclable packaging or no packaging at all. The traditional toothpaste tubes are a recycling nightmare and most of the time their materials cannot be reused or repurposed. For this reason, the best way to help the planet is to switch to tooth products that come in a solid form like toothpaste lollipops or tablets. The benefits are the same for your teeth and tongue and the planet will not have to deal with the waste the traditional packaging leaves behind. Also, probably no one will notice, so there is like 0 risk.
Lastly, one of the most sustainable things you can ever get is a menstrual cup and some reusable pads or menstrual underwear. This change requires some research and patience but once you have found your brand, you can be certain to be covered for the next decade.
The most important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable with the shapes and materials you use. Take the chance to get to know yourself better and to connect to your menstruation (if you have one). And do not rush anything!
You can start maybe just buying some reusable pads or knickers and using them at night, only one day at a time until you become familiar with them. Or maybe try the cup during a weekend you know you will be staying at home. The key is to give yourself plenty of time and trials to explore this option and always have a backup in case it doesn’t work out for you (just yet).
Lastly, never forget that you aren’t a better person if you are more sustainable, but you feel horrible about yourself. Start small, take time, practice, try things out, ask for advice from your friends, and make sure you are transitioning on your own terms.
Note: the best sustainable option ALWAYS is to use what you already have at home. Please consider using these tips when you actually need to refill or replace your products.
This article was written by Sandra Marín
Sandra Marín González is a certified yoga & meditation teacher based in Switzerland. She completed a bachelors degree in International Business Economics followed by a master's degree in Digital Journalism and Communications. She advocates for holistic wellbeing & sustainability and embraces the yoga principles, such as non-violence, on and off the mat. She currently owns a meditation channel and an online yoga studio.
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